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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 30 January 2018 at 5:47pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

We've had some fascinating discussions here about various bands, genres, etc. So, any views on Synth-pop?

You know, I love electronic music. My late father, bless him, didn't get electronic music, I think he thought it wasn't 'real music' (much more of a traditional instrument person, he was!). I had some fun chats with him. Way I see it, it's simply a tool: a talented and driven musician can utilise electronic tools in a good way whilst a talentless and disinterested musician can do nothing with a violin or piano.

You've heard of New Wave music, a genre of rock which embraced electronic music. Synth-pop was a subgenre of New Wave, where British bands adopted many electronic innovations that the likes of Kraftwerk had utilised so well. 

Synth-pop had a relatively short run. Was it influential? I'm not so sure. I always thought of it is a distinctly British thing, but like any musical discussion, that could well be a narrow interpretation of things. In a way, Synth-pop feels as British as a red telephone box or black taxi, but although it declined in popularity on these shores, it seems to have lived on elsewhere, e.g. continental Europe.

Any thoughts on Synth-pop? Share them here, please! 
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 30 January 2018 at 6:45pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Definitely influential, insofar as we have seen big acts like the Killers and Lady Gaga have at least some synthpop influence, while acts such as LaRoux and Capital Cities are even more heavily steeped in synthpop/electronica.

While synthpop did seem to largely revolve around British acts, I think there are quite a few notable exponents from other shores. You mentioned Kraftwerk as an antecedent, but their single The Model was pure synthpop. I'd also lump in Giorgio Moroder, Wendy Carlos, Devo, Yello, Harold Faltermeyer, A-Ha and even Vangelis and Tangerine Dream into the mix as notable players in the genre.

I used to think synth music sounded exciting and futuristic when I was growing up. The sounds from then now sound kind of vintage, but still have a certain charm. 
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 30 January 2018 at 6:49pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

They do certainly still have a charm. Very much a product of their era, but still entertaining.

I'd forgotten about Tangerine Dream. They did the theme tune for TV series STREET HAWK. I must look in on them, I am sure I must have some of their music somewhere.

As for being influential today, I guess so. Has the terminology Synth-pop been replaced by something else? I can't say I've heard the word in recent decades. 
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 31 January 2018 at 11:51am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I liked the synth pop of the early 80`s,i also remember
stuff like Magic Fly by Space and Oxygene by Jean
Michelle Jarre in the 70`s! Yes,they did have influence
on other artists,just look at how Rush took synths to
the heart of their music from Moving Pictures up to Hold
Your Fire!
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 31 January 2018 at 1:36pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I'd have to do some research, but I'm beginning to wonder whether Synth-pop survived, but simply changed its terminology.

I don't hear the term used now. I haven't heard it used in years. Nor have I seen it in print. But I am sure it exists (does any genre or subgenre every truly die?).
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Matthew Wilkie
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Posted: 31 January 2018 at 1:43pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I second the notion that Kraftwerk were the act that influenced synth pop and arguably all electronic music that name after them. There was an interesting documentary about them last week on BBC Radio 4's Soul Music series and it was difficult to argue against how far reaching their influence was.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 31 January 2018 at 1:56pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

On the subject of electronic music, NEVER listen to "Hamburger Lady" by Throbbing Gristle. Most disturbing. A song I almost wish I'd never heard.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 31 January 2018 at 10:52pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

That reminds me of the awful sounds heard when BBC HD
can`t broadcast regional news in your area.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 01 February 2018 at 7:06am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Good point, Bill! 
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 01 February 2018 at 8:51am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

That`s a whole other thread Robbie, if ITV can broadcast
regional news in SD on it`s HD channel, why can`t the
BBC? Not very cutting edge is it? Then to annoy the shit
out of us with the awful/creepy sounds whilst they tell
us how crap they are!
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 01 February 2018 at 3:15pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

As I revisited some Synth-pop this week, I got talking about it offline. And had to explain to a millennial what Synth-pop is. 

Give me strength! ;-)
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 01 February 2018 at 3:45pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

The essence can be explained by playing the first 25 seconds of Don't You Want Me :)
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 02 February 2018 at 8:40pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Go listen to just about anything by A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS, but especially SPACE AGE LOVE SONG.


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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 03 February 2018 at 5:35pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I realize that a lot of people really, really love New Order but I just couldn't muster any strong feelings about them. Joy Division I still love but they were hardly synth-pop.

(For those who don't know, Joy Division became New Order after singer Ian Curtis took his own life.)
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Corey Johnson
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Posted: 03 February 2018 at 5:55pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

The term "synthpop" has mostly been supplanted by "synthwave"--which is what the kids these days call electronic dance music with 80's style and aesthetics.

http://www.screenhead.com/synthwave-rise-of-retro-electronic -music/



Edited by Corey Johnson on 03 February 2018 at 5:55pm
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 03 February 2018 at 7:08pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

If synthpop had been supplanted by synthwave, I hardly think the JBF -- the authority on the subject, after all -- would be discussing synthpop.

We're cutting edge, right? Right???
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 05 February 2018 at 10:09am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

My theory, based on the type of music I like, is how genres blended to form new genres.
So, and bear with me please:
Punk
New wave
Synth pop - well, new wave and synth pop had very fuzzy lines - OMD - new wave or synth pop? Gary Numan - new wave or synth pop?

All that blended to form goth, along with ambient
Which had a wide spectrum depending on which influence was dominant in a particular group.
Bauhaus - more punk
Sisters/Mission/Nephilim - more punk with new wave leanings (long, drawn out synth chord structures)
Coactau Twins etc - more ambient leaning

Its a theory but it helps me chart my musical tastes/progression


Edited by James Woodcock on 05 February 2018 at 2:48pm
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 05 February 2018 at 10:20am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Well said, James.

I am a huge fan of heavy metal. I love talking about the roots, how blues singers "pumped up the volume", how it led to rock, how it spawned metal, etc. 
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Stephen Churay
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Posted: 13 March 2018 at 12:36pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

My favorites may fall more into Eruotrash.
I'm a huge fan of the Pet Shop Boys and
OMD.
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 18 March 2018 at 11:52pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Neither of those were Eurotrash Stephen.
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 19 March 2018 at 4:19pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

The one synthpop group I'm not a fan of at all? Erasure. Cannot think of a single song of theirs that I actually like.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 19 March 2018 at 6:06pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

 Brian Floyd wrote:
The one synthpop group I'm not a fan of at all? Erasure.

Unfriended, forthwith. ;-)
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 20 March 2018 at 1:48am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Depeche Mode, Yazoo, then Erasure

Three Vince Clarke bits of greatness in my opinion.
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 20 March 2018 at 1:31pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

I definitely paid some attention to synth-pop circa the very late '70s and early '80s... there was a lot of variety. Joy Division started going that way just before turning into New Order out of brutal necessity. The first Depeche Mode album with Vince Clarke was full of brilliant moments.OMD and Human League were innovating with I suspect somewhat vintage tech. Ultravox and various combos with Midge Ure were great (Yellow Pearl!) Before that I only knew Kraftwerk slightly, Devo, and the singles Popcorn by 'Hot Butter' and Son Of My Father by Giorgio Moroder (later covered by Chicory Tip). I think if there was one definite mass appeal 'hit' from the time I was paying attention it would've been Gary Numan's Cars. I later got everything he did going back to Tubeway Army and collections of demos.

By the '90s I was waist deep in Stereolab and some of their associates, but the great day of tinkly-bomp (if Kraftwerk were kling-klang) tunes had passed. Depeche Mode, OMD and Yaz did some good things later, and The Cure, but I really don't remember having much interest anymore by the mid '80s. I liked the odd bit of Erasure (Sometimes) but following the great Depeche and Yazoo they were sort of like Style Council following The Jam, y'know? The Pet Shop Boys were so huge and I never connected with that, they seem to cut an exceptionally slight figure in North America I'd have top say. Now Soft Cell were pretty big everywhere, don't want to forget them, maybe bigger than gary Numan! And Eurythmics... do they count as synth-pop?

Canada contributed the wonderous Men Without Hats (Hommes Sans Chapeaux) by the way! Hello Ivan! They did Safety Dance. Pop Goes The World. Moonbeam. I Got The Message. I Like. Did any of those get played outside Canada I wonder? Also another Quebec based group called The Box. Their hits were Must I Always Remember. Walk Away. Ordinary People. Oingo Boingo from the U.S. and Split Enz from New Zealand were popular too.


Edited by Rebecca Jansen on 20 March 2018 at 1:33pm
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 20 March 2018 at 11:54pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Rebecca, Safety Dance was pretty popular in the U.K. but that is the only one I remember from the band.

Eurythmics I would place in the same style as many of the others we have classed as synth pop so Id place them in that category
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